By Snejana Farberov
(MAINNEWS) – A California man has filed a lawsuit claiming that a winning Powerball ticket worth $2.04 billion was stolen from him.
The plaintiff, Jose Rivera, argues that he bought the lucky lottery ticket from Joe’s Service Center in Altadena on Nov. 7 — the day before the historic drawing, as TMZ first reported, citing court filings.
According to Rivera, a man identified by him only as “Reggie” somehow swiped the Powerball ticket from him that same day. The complaint reportedly does not explain the circumstances of the alleged theft.
After the drawing, Rivera said, he approached “Reggie,” seeking to get his ticket back, but the man allegedly claimed that the ticket did not match all six numbers — but even if it did, he would only agree to split the prize 50-50.
Rivera maintains in his lawsuit that he “refused to be blackmailed” and reported the alleged theft to law enforcement officials and to the California State Lottery, demanding an investigation before the prize is handed out.
On Valentine’s Day — three months after the unprecedented lottery drawing — a man named Edwin Castro was identified as the winner of the largest jackpot in history.
Lottery officials said at the time that Castro alone matched all six numbers and the Powerball after purchasing the ticket at Joe’s Service Center.
Castro, who did not attend the press conference announcing the winner, chose to take the lump-sum cash payment of $997.6 million.
Rivera’s lawsuit lists both Castro and “Reggie” as two separate defendants, but it does not offer any additional information on their purported involvement in the suspected theft.
Rivera is asking the court for damages and to declare him the rightful winner of the jackpot.
In a statement to The Post Thursday, CA Lottery spokesperson Carolyn Becker touted the organization’s process of vetting major prize winners.
“California Lottery remains confident that Edwin Castro is the rightful winner of the $2.04 billion prize stemming from the Powerball drawing in November of 2022,” she stated.
Becker added that the California Lottery “is not authorized to investigate criminal activity among its players; such allegations are subject to investigation only by local law enforcement.”